I have often heard it said that we are like stones, being polished by the river of life. Over time, our rough spots are washed away, leaving us smooth and shiny. Despite the analogy's allure, I am not a stone, and sometimes life’s polishing doesn’t leave me smooth and shiny, so much as raw. Too many of life’s scrapes, and I emerge with a tender spot, like soft pink skin that won’t heal until it’s no longer poked or prodded. In those moments, knowing that further irritation can only do more harm, I honor that feeling of being raw by giving myself comfort, solace, and space. There is nothing wrong with this feeling of rawness and tenderness. The raw spots are just asking for healing, and will with time, and so I wrap those tender parts of myself, like swaddling a baby in a warm blanket, and rest until they do. Stepping back from the currents of life is not escapism. Life happens too, in its own way, behind closed doors, cloistered momentarily from the exterior world. Rawness and tenderness are ways that life tells you to give yourself more love, more self care, to exert less. Your body and mind are tender precisely so that you might learn the value of tenderness towards yourself. Only then can you learn to extend that same loving tenderness and compassion to others, who also have raw spots of their own.